Category: Church

What Makes Small Churches Great Churches:
Part 2: Mature Love

">

What Makes Small Churches Great Churches:
Part 2: Mature Love


Dr. Thomas Douglas
Pastor
Parkway Baptist Church
Kansas City, KS




This is the third article in the series on the importance of small churches. The introduction article presented the reason for the series, and part 1 dealt with the foundational truth of the gospel and the Bible. To read these articles, click on the linked words.


When I first arrived at Parkway Baptist Church, I found myself in one of the most difficult situations ministry families face. I had to start at my new position, while my wife and children had to stay at our house three states away. The plan was simple: get to my new ministry, find an inexpensive month-to-month rental so my family could move up with me, and then buy our next house once our current one sold. The way the members of Parkway responded to my self-inflicted family crisis displayed the love that people experience over and over again at our church. A wonderful couple immediately provided me room and board as I began my ministry. Along with this Christian hospitality came several invites to meals from other church members. The church also allowed me to travel back to see my family as often as I could get away. Eventually, I found a pretty rustic 2 bedroom and a closet they called a third for a price my family could afford while still paying on our mortgage. When moving day came, twenty people showed up to help us move in half of our possessions (the rest remained in our staged house). Of course, the next Sunday, the church held a pounding for us that came with plenty of can goods, paper products, and gift cards to the local grocery store and Walmart.

Needless to say, our family felt very loved by their generosity. Then unexpectedly we received a gift from an anonymous family that covered our rent in the apartment for the first five months. Add to that, when we finally sold our house and bought one in our church field, the people who moved us into the apartment showed up again to move us into the house.

Read more ...

Pastor Search Committee 101
Part 3: Help! I’m a New Pastor and Don’t Know How to Deal With Search Committees

">

Pastor Search Committee 101
Part 3: Help! I’m a New Pastor and Don’t Know How to Deal With Search Committees




By Joe McKeever, Preacher, Cartoonist, Pastor, and retired Director of Missions at the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.




This is the third article of a three part series that deals with pastor’s search committees. The previous articles are:
Part 1: What That Pastor Search Committee is Looking For
Part 2: The Pastor and Wife are Visiting a New Church; What to Look For


As far as I know, no college or seminary has a course in how preachers are to deal with search committees. It’s a skill you acquire by trial and error. “Mostly trial,” I can hear someone say.

Recently, on this website, we’ve been addressing this subject. We talked about what the search committee looks for when they show up in your congregation on Sunday and then, prompted by a pastor’s wife, what the pastor is looking at when visiting that church “in view of a call.”

A friend mentioned to me something we’ve never addressed: What about a beginning preacher—not necessary a youngster—who is about to become a pastor? He finds himself sitting across from that search committee for the first time with a hundred questions eating at him. How does a beginning preacher deal with a search committee?

Since the world has changed in the nearly half-century when I sat in that boat, I asked my friend (David) to jot down specific questions. (Did he ever! He sent an even dozen. He’s serious about this!)

So, here, in the order in which David posed the questions, are my responses—such as they are—regarding a beginning pastor squaring off against a search committee (athletic, competitive terminology tongue-in-cheek).

Read more ...

What Makes Small Churches Great Churches:
Part 1: Truth

">

What Makes Small Churches Great Churches:
Part 1: Truth


Dr. Thomas Douglas
Pastor
Parkway Baptist Church
Kansas City, KS


Small churches are not great simply because of their numerical limitations, no more than large churches are great because of the number of heads in the pews. One can attend a church of any size that is unhealthy and detrimental to the cause of Christ. The purpose of this series of articles is to recognize that small churches that average under 100 in worship attendance still play a vital role in the advancement of the kingdom of God and have an important role in our convention. In my opinion these roles are often neglected and/or minimized by those who report our news because the headline “100 Decisions for Jesus” reads better than “Gospel Presented, One Says Yes.”

I must tell you that as I begin this series, the articles arise from my preaching series to my local church. In many ways, 2011 marked our greatest year as a church. We sent a couple to Peru on a mission trip that saw over 1,000 commitments to Christ, sent thirty-one people (out of an average of 65) on a mission trip to Arkansas, sent two men to disaster areas in Kansas and North Dakota, actively took up various items for a Burmese congregation in our area, had members teaching Bible studies in a drug rehab facility, conducted blood drives at our church, and conducted a science camp that was the best church children’s camp I’ve ever been a part. Still, as we approached the end of 2011, a pessimistic spirit began to emerge in the hallways of our church. Why? Because even though we had the greatest outreach and evangelistic impact in our church’s history, we didn’t see the visible results in our weekly worship attendance and offerings. In fact, our attendance declined, and we had to reduce our budget for the third year in a row.

Read more ...

Pastor Search Committee 101
Part 2: The Pastor and Wife are Visiting a New Church: What to Look For

">

Pastor Search Committee 101
Part 2: The Pastor and Wife are Visiting a New Church: What to Look For




By Joe McKeever, Preacher, Cartoonist, Pastor, and retired Director of Missions at the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.




This is the second article of a three part series that deals with pastor’s search committees. See “Part 1: What That Pastor Search Committee is Looking For.


Each denomination has its own approach to pastor-finding. Most Protestant churches will have variations of the way we Southern Baptists go about replacing preachers.

The church selects and commissions a small group of its finest as the Pastor Search Committee. Their job, in brief, is to sift through the résumés and letters of recommendations coming their way in order to find a few good men (in our denomination, pastors are almost always male) and prayerfully whittle the number down to the one they present to the congregation as “God’s man.”

Now, you’re a pastor. You’ve been serving the Middlesize Baptist Church in Smalltown, USA, and mostly loving it. You’ve been there several years, your wife is settled in, your kids are well-established with friends and activities, and the church seems reasonably satisfied with you. You have no reason to want to leave. But something happens.

A phone call informs you that the pastor search team from Bigtown is interested in you as a possible pastor since Doctor Reverend Powers retired. At their request, you send your résumé, they follow up your references, and phone calls are exchanged back and forth. The committee visits your services several times, and last Thursday night, they met with you and your wife.

Today, the phone call from the chairman informs you the committee wishes to invite you to Bigtown. If you agree, one Sunday soon, you are to preach in their pulpit, after which the congregation will vote on you becoming their next shepherd. The salary, which you are just now learning, is only slightly more than what you’re making now. But that’s no matter.

You and the family begin making arrangements to be in Bigtown that weekend. You secure a pulpit replacement for that Sunday, you tell one or two of your leaders what you’re up to (pledging them to silence!), and you get serious about praying.

The decision you and that church are about to make is critical. Since one road leads to another and there’s no returning to this spot to start over, you want to act cautiously and to seek God’s will in every detail.

Read more ...

Pastor Search Committee 101
Part 1: What That Pastor Search Committee is Looking For

">

Pastor Search Committee 101
Part 1: What That Pastor Search Committee is Looking For




By Joe McKeever, Preacher, Cartoonist, Pastor, and retired Director of Missions at the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.




This is the first article of a three part series that deals with pastor’s search committees. Parts two and three will be posted soon.


My wife and I were being shown around town by two ladies who were members of their church’s committee assigned to locate and sign-up the next pastor for that congregation. I will never forget something Jane said from the driver’s seat. “I told our committee, ‘I want us to bring in a handsome pastor, someone who will look good behind our pulpit.’“

Had she slapped me, the blow would not have hurt more. That shallow assessment of what they needed in the next pastor turned out to be rather symbolic of where most of the committee stood.

How does that old line go: “Too late smart, too soon dead.”

Most search committees, I want to assert with no evidence at all other than my own convictions, do not take that superficial an approach to their task. Most of them – at least in their own minds and hearts – really do want to find the person God has chosen for their church. Just as long as God’s person is a male, between the ages of 35 and 50, with a doctor’s degree from somewhere official-sounding, and with a beautiful wife by his side who clearly adores him.

Sorry for the little cynicism there. I’m really not disparaging what they do. Most committees, once they find “the” person, even if it’s not what they originally set out for, are willing to change their requirements and go for it. That’s why sometimes a committee will bring in a 27-year-old as pastor and sometimes a 70-year-old. Sometimes they decide this preacher is so fine the absence of a doctorate is not that big a deal. And once in a while, all requirements are jettisoned and they really do go “outside the box.”

All that being said, there is one huge reminder that needs to be passed along to pastors now at the point in their ministry where they are courting search committees.

Read more ...